Relationship between Anthropology and Psychology
Psychology is the science of human behavior. Even anthropology encompasses in its scope the understanding and analysis of human behavior. Both anthropology and psychology are closely related. Psychology studies man's behavior in relation to the environment. Anthropology is also a comparative and analytic study of human behavior and experiences. Both try to understand man in the context of social behavior. In this way psychology arid anthropology are complementary to each other. Whereas on one side psychological knowledge helps an anthropologist in understanding the root causes of human behavior in different cultures, on the other side anthropological studies help the psychologist in calculating the influence of cultural environment of human behavior.
In the modern times, the various anthropological studies have rendered important help in the field of psychology. By studying different primitive cultures, anthropologists have shown how human behavior differs in different cultural environments. Every culture has its special method of social control, which has an important influence on the personality of its members. For example, there has been a great disturbance in the adjustment of adolescence due to restraint on the mutual relations among the individuals of different sexes in civilized societies. It has been found through anthropological studies that such changes are nowhere to be seen in many primitive societies. For example, as in civilized societies, there is no restriction of any kind among the natives of. Samoa Island and therefore an adult becomes self-reliant very early. In India, as compared to Hindu society, it is easier for adolescents of tribal society to become adults due to increased sex education and decreased restrictions. In this way, psychologists learn from such studies the changes that can be seen in human personality and behavior as a result of cultural changes.
The closest relationship between psychology and anthropology is seen between the main branches, social psychology and cultural anthropology. Social psychology studies the individual behavior under social environments. Social anthropology also studies human society, social institutions and groups. Explaining their relationship, Hoebel writes The anthropologist concentrates chiefly on the society of the primitive people and the sociologist concentrates on our contemporary civilization. The social psychologist roams happily between them manipulating his tests and measurements.
In spite of their close relation, the difference between anthropology and psychology should not be neglected. In brief, the chief differences between them are as follows.
- Psychology studies individual behavior in social environments whereas anthropology studies not an individual but the whole of the mankind.
- Psychology studies individual behavior in social environments whereas social anthropology studies groups of individuals.
- Both psychology and anthropology study man but with different viewpoints.
- Whereas some methods of observation are commonly employed in both of these sciences, some methods of psychology, like the introspection method, are not used in anthropology.
Both psychology and anthropology, however, can contribute enormously to our understanding of man.